Super Bowl 2011: A Guide to (Maybe) the Best NFL Game Ever


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I had a meeting earlier this week with a woman who had one of the more bizarre conversation tics I've ever come across. Instead of asking questions, like "So what would make this situation better?" she would say, "Query what would make the situation better." After the first few times when I thought she was making statements instead of asking questions, I was actually fascinated by the college professor-esque speaking style.

So: Query if from a historical perspective Steelers-Packers is the best possible Super Bowl matchup.

In other words, if you could pick any Super Bowl matchup in a vacuum that had the most franchise pedigree, would Steelers-Packers be the choice? From the AFC, it's no contest—the Steelers are lapping the field with six Super Bowl titles and have dominated the conference for 40 years. The NFC's a tougher question because the Packers, Cowboys and 49ers each have a legitimate claim. But even though Dallas and San Francisco have five Super Bowls each, I'd take Green Bay. The Cowboys and Niners can't compete with a history that includes Lambeau Field, wins in the first two Super Bowls, Vince Lombardi, mid-90s Brett Favre, the fact that the citizens of Green Bay actually own the team ...

So I'd argue that this year's Super Bowl matchup has the most history and pedigree of all time. Oh, and it should be a pretty good game too.

Let's break it down:

Super Bowl XLV: Packers vs. Steelers, Cowboys Stadium, 6:30 pm Sunday Feb. 6, FOX


I have a bottle of single-malt Scotch for anyone who predicted six months ago that Ben Roethlisberger would be one game away from entering the "Best Quarterback of This Generation" discussion. The Pittsburgh QB was suspended four games for alleged sexual assault (the second time sexual assault allegations have been levied against him), and the Steelers were considering trading the troubled gunslinger. Now he's a victory away from joining an elite group of quarterbacks with his third Super Bowl win (only Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, and Troy Aikman have won three Super Bowls).

Big Ben is almost impossible to take down in the pocket and has a knack for making the big plays in the clutch. But in the AFC championship game, the Jets found a formula for slowing him down in the second half: blitz less, disguise coverages and force Roethlisberger to throw from the pocket into tight coverage. The Packers have shown they can change up their pass defenses (witness B.J. Raji in coverage) and if they can slow down running back Rashard Mendenhall they could stymie the Steelers offense. Sidenote: Expect a monster game from Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews, who lost out on Defensive Player of the Year honors by two votes to Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu. He's made a career of using slights as motivation.

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Jake Simpson is a New York-based writer.

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